Arnaud Tonus of Team CLS Kawasaki Monster Energy scored a career first GP win at Beto Carrero in Brazil to take over the points lead from injured Jeffrey Herlings after three rounds of the FIM World MX2 Motocross Championship.
The Swiss rider had already shown his liking for the track on the edge of one of Brazil’s favourite theme parks with a strong ride through the pack to third during qualification the previous day and he immediately stamped his authority on the opening GP moto, taking over the lead on the opening lap to race clear for a decisive 13 second victory.
Light drizzle made the track treacherously slippery and called for a degree of caution in race two, but Arnaud showed patience and resolution to make decisive passes as he advanced from fourth to second.
With the overall GP now secure if he maintained his position, he wisely settled for second position to the chequered flag and now goes to Arco di Trento in northern Italy in two weeks time bearing the red plate awarded to the series points leader.
Tonus said: “What happened today didn’t really sink in yet as I won my first ever GP moto, my first GP overall and lead the World Championship for the first time in my life!
“For sure I knew that it was possible, but after the difficulties of the last two seasons the first goal was simply to reach a podium. In the first race it was difficult mentally and the race felt like it lasted for two hours, but I quickly made a gap and could control the race to the finish line.
“In the second race I had another good start, and found a good rhythm when I was third, but when I took over second place I started to ride a little tense as I knew that I had the chance to win the GP. But I managed to pull myself together, stay focused and get the job done! I want to thank the team who support me always, especially team owner Jean Jacques Luisetti and Bruno Losito who gives us since the beginning of the season good advice.”
Dylan Ferrandis had chased Tonus home for a CLS Kawasaki 1-2 in race one, and the French teenager was actually in an even better position that the Swiss rider to be leading the world at the end of the day, but two crashes and a pit stop in race two cost Dylan his chance of another podium finish and left him holding third in the championship, just five points shy of the series lead.
“I had some troubles to find the best suspension settings on Saturday so my riding was not so great, but we found some solutions for Sunday,” said Dylan Ferrandis. “I didn’t get the best of starts in race one and I was maybe 10th or 11th but I recovered to second so I was happy with my riding.
“In the second moto I had a great start and passed Febvre on the first lap; I knew that it was slippery and rode carefully but in front of the pit lane I had a stupid crash. I got back on fifth and passed Arnaud in a corner but then I had another crash which damaged the brake lever and stopped in the pits to repair it. I lost maybe twenty seconds and then had to come back from nineteenth to tenth. I’m frustrated as I know that I had the speed to win this GP, but we’ll continue to work hard.”
Alessandro Lupino’s frustrating season continued as he was forced to retire in the opening race when his bike was damaged, while a crash cost him the prospects of a top six finish in race two. The Italian is now 12th in the series standings as he approaches his home GP in two weeks’ time.
“It was another tough weekend for me. In the first moto I broke the clutch level without even crashing; maybe a stone hit the lever but I can’t explain what happened,” said Alessandro Lupino. “I was in second gear and it was impossible to continue like that, so I hoped the second moto would be better. I was riding better than in the previous races this year, but I crashed when I was in seventh position; I lost a few positions and my goggles, but still finished eighth to at least score some more points.”
Dutch rider Herjan Brakke deputised for injured team regular Tommy Searle in the MXGP class, and showed great resilience in such exalted company to record a second moto 17th place after a first corner crash had ended his chance of points in race one.
Herjan Brakke commented: “It was a great experience for me to ride this GP for CLS Kawasaki, it’s such a good team and a great bike. I had several injuries last year and it’s my first GP since a while, so it’s difficult to comeback and discover a new track, a new team and a new bike.
“I could improve my riding through the weekend, and scored some points in the second heat. I struggled a lot with the track, but I learned also a lot and that’s a positive weekend for me.”